Levelling up progress at Unity City Academy

We’ve worked with Unity City Academy for several years now, with a focus on helping pupil premium students to build their confidence. This year, we supported 75 students, delivering 1,300 lessons in GCSE Science, Maths and English. Here’s what Scott Danks, Vice Principal at Unity City Academy, had to say about the programme this year.

The challenge

“For us, the key challenge is boosting confidence for students who are struggling in a particular subject. Our school is 75% pupil premium, which means most students selected for the programme are from a disadvantaged background. For the majority of these students, if a teacher asks a question, they’re not going to be the ones who are forthcoming in putting up a hand or shouting out an answer, because they lack self-confidence.”

The programme

“Our normal school timetable is five lessons a day, so we’ve introduced what we call a ‘Period 6’, which is a slot dedicated to intervention time. We use this slot for MyTutor sessions. This year, we have just over 70 students this year on the programme, doing a combination of Maths and English. The majority are Year 11 students, but we’ve also added some of our Year 9 pupils onto the programme, to try and start them off earlier and establish MyTutor as ‘the norm’ for them.”

“We’ve had 1,300 hours of tuition across the cohort this year, with an average attendance of 69%, and a handful of students on 100% attendance, which has been a great success story for us. One of our 100% attenders was a young lady who had to miss a large period of school due to medical reasons – yet she made the time for her MyTutor sessions around her appointments and other commitments, which we felt was a brilliant indication of the level of engagement we’ve seen.”

The impact

“Measurement has obviously been difficult this year, in terms of grade progress, however we’ve run programmes with MyTutor for three or four years now, and feel it’s definitely helped our students. In that time, our school’s results have increased every single year, and we’re making some of the biggest progress in our local authority.”

“Of course, not all of this is due to MyTutor, but it’s definitely been a contributing factor, and having the extra support for our students has been a massive help. Last year, we also saw a positive impact in students’ reporting of their confidence, via our AS (Affective Social) Tracking programme – which is another reason why we’re keen to continue to use the programme.”

“I think the one-to-one format works especially well for confidence-building, because it makes the lessons more of a two-way discussion, allowing students to work through problems at their own pace, without the usual teacher-learner dynamic.”

The experience

“Having run programmes for a couple of years now, we generally know the system and have good procedures in place. Our IT technician knows exactly how to get the computers ready, and the students know that they need to collect their headsets and laptops before the session – and they just crack on, really!”

“For us, the simplicity of the programme is key. With a lot of programmes that are rolled out these days, there are massive issues with setting systems up, and you need to have various programmes downloaded and installed. With MyTutor, the IT side of things, which schools will normally have issues with, is extremely easy.”

“The MyTutor team are also incredibly helpful, and do everything possible to get you set up, and to help out when the programme is running. We know we’ve got someone there 24/7 if we have any issues.”

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